San Diego Zoo Researchers Retrieve Rhino's Eggs to Recover Critically Endangered Species

Researchers retrieved 9-year-old rhino Nikita's eggs in an effort to recover the northern white rhino

Several researchers and veterinarians take part in the retrieval of a female rhinoceros' eggs at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
San Diego Zoo Global

Researchers at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park collected a female southern white rhinoceros’ eggs as a step to genetically recover the northern white rhino.

On March 6, a team of more than 30 veterinarians, wildlife care specialists and researchers from the San Diego Zoo Global and Embryo Plus South Africa teamed up to perform an ovum pick-up on 9-year-old rhino, Nikita. The non-surgical procedure gathers a live animal’s eggs and is modeled after a similar method used on horses and cows

Nikita the rhino was under anesthesia during the procedure as researchers located her ovaries by ultrasound. The animal’s eggs were then retrieved by a tiny needle that was inserted into each follicle. Those eggs are expected to mature in vitro and fertilize by intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

Researchers ultimately hope to produce a northern white rhino, a critically endangered species of rhinoceros. According to the zoo, there are only two northern white rhinos remaining.

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